Satish Kumar: A look at India's first super heavyweight pugilist's Olympic journey
The army man turned pugilist missed his shots at World Championships and Rio Olympics on account of injuries, but punched his way back
Satish Kumar etched his name in the record books as he became the first Indian boxer in the super heavyweight category (91 kg and above) to secure a berth in the Olympic Games. Kumar qualified for Tokyo Olympics by beating Mongolian boxer Otgonbayer Daivii unanimously at the Asian Boxing Olympic Qualifiers at March this year.
The journey covered by Kumar to achieve the feat is as commendable as the feat in itself. The Tokyo bound pugilist hails from the city of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, and belongs to a family having national service in their blood.
Similar to his father and four brothers, Kumar joined the Indian Army as a teenager, as his mission was always the service of the country. It was there that Kumar discovered his true finding, and unearthed a new medium to serve the nation.
With a height of 6'2" and a strong built, Kumar came under the notice of one of the boxing coaches, who asked him to try his chance at the sport. A couple of years down the line, he clinched a medal in his maiden appearance at the Senior National Championships. The pugilist began plying his trade in the ring as he entered his 20s, at a point when his rivals had loads of experience at their disposal.
It took some time for the young gun from Bulandshahr to taste success at the international level. In fact, he was forced to retire from the quarter finals of the 2013 World Championships, on account of a cut above his right eye, which deemed him medically unfit to take his opponent.
This was followed by an exclusion from the Indian contingent for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, Kumar punched his way back, by clinching successive bronze medals at the 2014 Asian Games and the 2015 Asian Boxing Championships.
Kumar's form and career started peaking, at a time that was apt for him as well as his nation, with Rio Olympics fast approaching. However, destiny had other plans for the pugilist, as another deep cut near his eyebrows forced to bow out of the quarter final from the qualifiers.
A long cherished dream was shattered, and the nation still waited to be represented in the super heavyweight category at the global sporting spectacle.
However, for the umpteenth time, Kumar punched his way back to the mainstream. He clinched gold at the Grand Prix Ustinad Labem in Czech Republic, and followed it up with two silvers medals in the inaugural edition of the Indian Open and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Kumar received the Arjuna Award for the pedigree of his exploits in the boxing ring.
The 30-year old went from strength to strength post these victories, and etched the biggest win of his career, as he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 by making it to the semi-final of the Asian Boxing Olympic Qualifiers this year. Immense portions of hard work, secretive strategies and ounces of luck have been instrumental in handing him this achievement, Kumar revealed.